Guest blog by Martin Betts, Vice Chair TW Labour
It’s come to our attention that some of our political opponents are pushing hard on the message that our excellent Labour candidate “isn’t local.” We’d like to set the record straight about this, because it’s quite misleading and a little bit unsavoury.
- Antonio doesn’t currently live in the Tunbridge Wells constituency. Well, he’s been living here with his in-laws for the past month! But he’s made no secret of the fact that he currently is based in London – on your ballot papers you’ll see there is a registered address linked to his name in Harrow, where he currently serves as a councillor and cabinet member. He wanted to be open and transparent about that (some candidates find a registered address in the constituency to “appear local”) because he believes in open,
fair and decent politics. And of course, when we wake up to a special Labour victory here on 13 December, Antonio will move to Tunbridge Wells outright in a heartbeat.
- And goodness, he has very strong, and genuine, roots in Tunbridge Wells. His wife was born, raised and grew up in Tunbridge Wells. Half his family live and work in Tunbridge Wells. He took his marriage classes here, and was indeed married here in Goudhurst! And over the past 13 years, since he met his wife, he’s been coming back to the constituency every few weeks and so he knows fully well about local changes, ranging from absurd theatre projects to horrific road congestion to flooding issues. He was no “parachute” – he wanted to be parliamentary candidate for one constituency only, Tunbridge Wells, because he strongly believes the rise in foodbanks, child poverty, fuel poverty and lack of affordable housing here is a direct result of Tory and Lib Dem austerity, and Tunbridge Wells needs a Labour MP to set this right.
- Let’s think about the double standards here. The Lib Dems have been pushing the “non-local” message hard (the Tories haven’t because their candidate didn’t live in Tunbridge Wells when he was elected, so they’re mature enough to recognise this). So will the Lib Dems ask their candidates Sam Gyimah, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna and many others who aren’t “local” to the constituencies they are standing in to “go home”, as some have asked Antonio? And, given the Lib Dems supposedly believe in freedom of movement, isn’t it a bit rich to be playing the local card, to be telling Antonio to “get the first train out of here”? Antonio’s a child of first and second generation immigrants – this isn’t a particularly good look for the Lib Dems, so they may wish to refrain from this.
The bottom line is, yes, the other candidates in this election have a “local address”. If you think that’s all it takes to be a great MP, then we politely but strongly disagree.
We’re proud to have Antonio as our candidate and know he’ll be an exceptional MP for Tunbridge Wells.
If you want to see him with the other parliamentary candidates, come to the Election Hustings at Tunbridge Wells Baptist Church on Wednesday 4th December at 7.30pm. And if you can’t wait, watch him debate with the Lib Dem candidate Ben Chapelard in KMTV’s Paul on Politics here: